On Monday, April 22, 2024, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, the Ohio Medical Board, and the State of Ohio filed a complaint for writs of mandamus and prohibition against Judge Michael J. Holbrook of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas in the Supreme Court of Ohio.

The complaint stems from a case being heard in Judge Holbrook’s court titled Moe, et al. v. Yost, et al. In that case, two families with children who identify as transgender are challenging the constitutionality of Substitute Senate Bill 68, a new law regulating medical treatment for transgender minors and establishing policies around transgender participation in school sports and issues of child custody.

When the families filed for a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order against enforcement of the new law, Judge Holbrook granted an order on April 16th that enjoins all provisions of the law for the entire state. However, the Attorney General argues that Judge Holbrook exceeded the proper scope of equitable authority by granting statewide relief to non-parties and enjoining provisions unrelated to the harms alleged.

The complaint states that Judge Holbrook’s injunction violates principles of equitable jurisdiction by providing a remedy exceeding what is allowed under Ohio statutes and civil rules. It claims Judge Holbrook has a clear legal duty to comply with Rule 65 of the Rules of Civil Procedure and R.C. 2727.02, which limit injunctive relief to parties before the court and provisions directly affecting plaintiffs.

According to the complaint, neither family challenging the law alleges they will be impacted by provisions concerning athletics or custody issues. Additionally, the injunction grants relief to millions of non-parties not directly involved in the underlying case. The Attorney General argues immediate action is necessary to correct Judge Holbrook’s overbroad exercise of jurisdiction before further harm is done.

In the underlying case before Judge Holbrook, the families claim the new law violates provisions of the Ohio Constitution related to single subject rules, health care freedom, equal protection, and due course of law. Judge Holbrook based the statewide injunction on a determination that plaintiffs are likely to succeed on their single subject claim.

However, the complaint says Judge Holbrook’s analysis of the legislative history and provisions at issue exceeded his authority to grant preliminary injunctive relief. It asks the high court to issue writs of mandamus and prohibition directing Judge Holbrook to modify the injunction in a way consistent with applicable statutes, rules, and equitable principles.

Specifically, the Attorney General wants the injunction limited only to the two families directly involved in the case, and only concerning medical treatment provisions they allege will harm them prior to a final decision. The complaint notes another similar nationwide injunction of an Idaho law was recently stayed by the U.S. Supreme Court, demonstrating the overreach of such broad preliminary relief.

As the case moves forward, the Supreme Court will now decide whether to take action regarding Judge Holbrook’s statewide injunction of the new transgender law or allow the injunction to remain in place.

Judge Holbrook‘s courtroom is located at 345 S High Street, 5th Floor, Courtroom 5B, ColumbusOH 43215, and can be reached at 614.525.3664.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.